Thursday CoronaBuzz, April 29, 2021: 35 pointers to updates, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Please wear a mask (or even two). Get vaccinated. Wash your hands. Please be careful. I love you.


Washington State University: COVID‑19 vaccine questions answered in new video series. “With eligibility for the COVID‑19 vaccines expanding, a new four‑part video series from Washington State University examines common questions and concerns with practical, easy-to-understand explanations from infectious disease expert Dr. Guy Palmer.”

Phys .org: New web app ranks spillover risk for newly detected viruses. “SARS-CoV-2 showed the world with devastating clarity the threat undetected viruses can pose to global public health. SpillOver, a new web application developed by scientists at the University of California, Davis, and contributed to by experts from all over the world, ranks the risk of wildlife-to-human spillover for newly-discovered viruses.”


The Verge: Expedia launches a new tool to check coronavirus travel restrictions. “As more people get vaccinated against the coronavirus and spring weather coaxes people outside, we’re all thinking about those travel plans we shelved last summer. But with COVID-19 travel restrictions varying by country and by state in the US, it’s difficult to figure out what’s safe and what the latest rules are. Expedia Group — whose online travel agent (OTA) websites include Expedia, Vrbo, Travelocity,, and others — has created a tool to help travelers plan trips while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions at their destinations.”


KJZZ: New Website Helps Rural Older Adults Get Rides To Get Vaccinated. “Amy St. Peter is the deputy executive director of the Maricopa Association of Governments. ‘And for some of the appointments, it’s in the middle of the night,’ she said. ‘So if even if they’re able to drive, is it really safe, and do they want to drive by themselves at late at night, and so with being able to provide better access to transportation, that’s really part of the COVID response.’ St. Peter says website users can input their service area and the type of transportation they require. The service is not just for rural Arizonans. She says many folks who live in urban areas also struggle finding rides.”


Creative Review: How the Pandemic Graphic Archive is preserving our new reality. “The Pandemic Graphic Archive is one of the various online archives and initiatives cropping up in response to our new reality, just as major cultural institutions have scrabbled to add Covid-related objects to their collections. The ongoing project is the brainchild of recent graphic design graduate Charlotte Walker who, faced with the prospect of an unstable employment market, launched the archive after finishing up at Liverpool John Moores University last summer.” A LOT of floor signage.


BBC: Covid-19: UK Indians rally to help during Covid crisis. “Scenes of people in India begging for oxygen during the nation’s record Covid surge have shocked and moved the world. And no-one has been more moved than the global Indian diaspora. So how are those in the UK responding to the crisis?”

New York Times: ‘This Is a Catastrophe.’ In India, Illness Is Everywhere.. “India is now recording more infections per day — as many as 350,000 — than any other country has since the pandemic began, and that’s just the official number, which most experts think is a vast underestimation. New Delhi, India’s sprawling capital of 20 million, is suffering a calamitous surge. A few days ago, the positivity rate hit a staggering 36 percent — meaning more than one out of three people tested were infected. A month ago, it was less than 3 percent.”


NBC News: Toilet paper, diapers and other consumer products are latest to see price hikes. “The second-largest toilet paper manufacturer in the U.S. warned that it will soon raise prices on products from bathroom tissue to diapers. Kimberly-Clark said in a news release that the increases “are necessary to help offset significant commodity cost inflation,” reflecting higher supply costs.”

BBC: Writing songs in lockdown: ‘It was an escape’. “Now That’s What I Call Lockdown is a collection of songs and music written by BBC Radio 5 Live listeners. The aim was ‘to build the ultimate lockdown playlist, a chance for listeners of all standards, amateur and professional, to hear their music played out on the radio,’ said presenter Chris Warburton. The songs cover themes that resonate with the times – loneliness and loss, but also hope for the future, reunions and love.”

Poynter: What we lost and what we found after a year working from home. “Most journalists have not said goodbye, forever, to the spaces where they worked and met. But since last March, a lot of us have worked from home without the hum of phone calls and conversations, shouts of news, sad desk lunches, coffee breaks, tedious meetings, supply runs or any of the other things that make a workplace an actual place to work. It’s been a long, tragic year since our homes became our offices.”

New York Times: Pandemic Wilderness Explorers Are Straining Search and Rescue. “Kenna Tanner and her team can list the cases from memory: There was the woman who got tired and did not feel like finishing her hike; the campers, in shorts during a blizzard; the base jumper, misjudging his leap from a treacherous granite cliff face; the ill-equipped snowmobiler, buried up to his neck in an avalanche. All of them were pulled by Ms. Tanner and the Tip Top Search and Rescue crew from the rugged Wind River mountain range in the last year, in this sprawling, remote pocket of western Wyoming. And all of them, their rescuers said, were wildly unprepared for the brutal backcountry in which they were traveling.”

WRAL: Maple Syrup Making Also Boomed as a Pandemic Hobby. “Stress-baking and panic shopping. Vegetable regrowing and crafting. Now we can add another hobby to a year of quarantine trends: backyard maple sugaring. Among the many indicators that it’s on the rise: a run on at-home evaporators and other syrup-making accouterments; a surge in traffic and subscriptions to maple syrup-making websites and trade publications; and, of course, lots and lots of documentation on social media.”


Poynter: Fears about vaccines accounted for half of fact checks submitted to the Alliance database in March. “Vaccine falsehoods increased their share of the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance database in March, accounting for 49% of the 455 newly added claims. The database, which combines the work of more than 90 fact-checking organizations from more than 70 countries writing fact checks in more than 40 languages, has compiled more than 12,000 fact checks since the beginning of the infodemic.”

The Wrap: YouTube Purges Florida Governor Video Over Claims Children Don’t Need to Wear Masks. “YouTube has deleted a video in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a handful of medical experts questioned the effectiveness of having children wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. The video, which was removed on Wednesday, was of a recent roundtable discussion DeSantis moderated on the global response to the pandemic.”

CNET: Joe Rogan and COVID disinformation: What he said and why he’s wrong. “Rogan has questioned the use of masks, promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID remedy on his show. He’s also regularly brought on guests to discuss the use of Vitamin D in helping ease COVID-19 symptoms. Joe Rogan has also come under fire in the past for lending his massive platform to controversial voices like Alex Jones.”

Mashable: Facebook says it removed the internet’s 12 most prominent anti-vaxxers. 10 are still on the social network.. “In response to the hearing, the CCDH and Anti-Vax Watch have just put out what they are calling the ‘sequel’ to the initial Disinformation Dozen report. It provides multiple examples of how these prominent anti-vaxxers, such as Joseph Mercola, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Rizza Islam, have violated Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s own policies on COVID-19 and vaccination misinformation. The new report focuses on 105 pieces of content from the Disinformation Dozen posted over the past 30 days that clearly violate the social media companies’ terms of service, according to the two organizations. They say the content included in the report has been viewed up to 29 million times since March 25.”


Route Fifty: 12 Months of Trauma: More Than 3,600 US Health Workers Died in Covid’s First Year. “One key finding: Two-thirds of deceased health care workers for whom the project has data identified as people of color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status in America’s health care workforce. Lower-paid workers who handled everyday patient care, including nurses, support staff and nursing home employees, were far more likely to die in the pandemic than physicians were.”


NME: Burning Man Festival cancelled for second year running due to coronavirus. “Burning Man 2021 is the latest festival to be axed this year as coronavirus concerns continue across the U.S. Organisers of the Nevada event said that ongoing ‘uncertainties’ had forced its cancellation for the second year running.”


NBC News: Pfizer says Covid vaccine 100 percent effective in children ages 12 to 15. “The vaccine, given in two doses three weeks apart, is already cleared for emergency use in people ages 16 and up. The company plans to request emergency use authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds in the coming weeks, “with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.”

CNBC: Employees could be heading back to the office sooner than they think. “The days of working from home may numbered. While some companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Salesforce and PricewaterhouseCoopers, are dumping office space, others are ramping up their return-to-work plans.”

New York Times: A Stand-Up Set at the Swipe of a MetroCard. “For about three months, New York’s comics had been preparing sets to perform Saturday nights on the 1 train. It may not have been the most glamorous of gigs, but as a comic joked last Saturday, at least it was cleaned regularly. The relentless screeching of the subway had a tendency to drown out punch lines, but a few of the comics agreed that wasn’t so different from the hum of activity in a typical club — the clinking of glasses, the waiters whispering, ‘What can I get you?'”

Travel+Leisure: Qatar Airways Operates First-ever Fully-vaccinated Flight. “The flight, which took off on a Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 from Doha’s Hamad International Airport at about 11 a.m. local time and returned to the city at 2 p.m., was a glimpse into a possible future. Every passenger and crew member was fully vaccinated along with the staff at check-in, according to the airline.”


BBC: Covid: Turkey prepares for its first full lockdown. “The streets are crowded, the shopping centres busy and the traffic heavy. Some flock to the main bus terminal to get out of Istanbul, while others are trying to stockpile alcohol amid news of a ‘booze ban’. This is the mood as Turkey prepares later on Thursday to enter its first full lockdown of the pandemic, to curb a surge in infections and deaths.”

BBC: Covid: Australia faces vaccine delays after changing AstraZeneca advice. “Australia’s vaccine rollout is to be further delayed after local regulators advised limiting use of the AstraZeneca shot – the country’s main vaccine. On Thursday, the government said it now recommended that people aged under 50 get the Pfizer jab over AstraZeneca’s. It follows restrictions in other nations, after Europe’s drug regulator found a rare blood clot risk linked to the vaccine.”


Washington Post: Andrew Cuomo declared the pandemic a ‘no-politics zone.’ Behind the scenes, he worked to burnish his own standing.. “The New York governor, in his third term, rose to stardom last spring with his fierce denunciations of Trump, his no-nonsense approach at his news briefings and his occasional criticisms of other politicians who were not following public health guidance. He was embraced as a liberal hero and regularly railed against political interference by others in the response to the pandemic, holding up New York as a beacon of medical light during a time of national darkness…. In recent weeks, that record has been shadowed by allegations that his administration withheld the number of deaths in nursing homes linked to the coronavirus — a matter now under federal investigation — and revelations that Cuomo’s family members benefited from preferential coronavirus testing.”


Wanted in Milan: Italian schoolgirl takes online lessons in mountains surrounded by goats. “Schools in Italy’s ‘red zones’ are closed under the nation’s covid-19 restrictions, meaning millions of children of all ages are taking lessons online from home. Not so in the case of 10-year-old Fiammetta, in the northern Trentino province, who is connecting with her fourth-grade teachers and classmates from high up in the mountains, surrounded by goats.”

Poynter: How the AP Stylebook has kept up with the pandemic. “The pandemic gave us a new vocabulary to describe everyday life — Zoom, anyone? — and editors at the Associated Press Stylebook have been working to keep up. AP first published its coronavirus topical guide last March and has since updated it ‘five or six’ times in the past year, AP Stylebook editor Paula Froke said. The current version, published March 10, contains 74 entries, 43 of which are new to the stylebook.”


NPR: Should Masking Last Beyond The Pandemic? Flu And Colds Are Down, Spurring A Debate. “A study released this month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, led by researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, found that across 44 children’s hospitals, the number of pediatric patients hospitalized for respiratory illnesses is down 62%. Deaths have dropped dramatically too, compared with the last 10 years: The number of flu deaths among children is usually between 100 and 200 per year, but so far only one child has died from the disease in the U.S. during the 2020-2021 flu season.”


BuzzFeed News: As Indians Face A COVID-19 Crisis, Facebook Temporarily Hid Posts With #ResignModi. “Facebook temporarily hid posts calling for the resignation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, marking the platform’s latest foray in a series of controversial decisions affecting free speech in a country experiencing a full-blown COVID-19 crisis.”

Washington Post: In desperate hunt for oxygen and hospital beds, India turns to Twitter. “Some are using the platform to share locations where gas cylinders, which are in limited supply, can be refilled. Others are posting details about patients in urgent need of help. Some posts advertise which hospitals have empty beds and others ask for blood plasma donors. There are tweets that offer advice on how to stay safe and others that beg for ambulances before it is too late.”

Mashable: Got a strange text about your COVID vaccine? Here’s what could be going on.. “Policy under health data portability and privacy law HIPAA allows health care providers to share patient information with ‘business associates’ as long as those companies securely store data. But that arrangement means people may be receiving communications about their vaccines — sensitive health information — from entities they might not have heard of before.”


Mashable: 150,000 handpainted hearts on memorial wall represent each life lost to COVID in the UK. “150,000 hand-painted red and pink hearts line a wall beside the River Thames in London, with each heart representing a person lost to COVID-19 in the UK. The National COVID Memorial Wall sits on the embankment on the south side of the River Thames in London, stretching nearly 500 metres between Westminster and Lambeth bridges. The hearts have been handpainted by volunteers.”


Bloomberg Law: Financial Watchdog Hit With Deluge of Covid-Related Complaints. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau saw a 60% spike in consumer complaints in 2020, a development expected to lead to an increase in enforcement activity under the Biden administration, which has promised to be tougher on financial institutions. Consumers filed nearly 445,000 complaints with the bureau in 2020—the greatest one-year total on record—compared with 277,366 in 2019, according to a Bloomberg Law data analysis.”

The Advocate: ‘I paid $15,000:’ Baton Rouge man arrested at Disney resort for refusing temperature check. “A Louisiana tourist complained he paid $15,000 for a Disney World vacation that was disrupted when he was arrested after refusing to have his temperature checked at Disney Springs, according to video footage released last week by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”

The Verge: Android bug exposed COVID-19 contact tracing logs to preinstalled apps. “The Android version of Google and Apple’s COVID-19 exposure notification app had a privacy flaw that let other preinstalled apps potentially see sensitive data, including if someone had been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, privacy analysis firm AppCensus revealed on Tuesday. Google says it’s currently rolling out a fix to the bug.”

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